Page images

back to Virginia who had no regular occupation; some of these came to Kentucky as settlers. There were among the settlers many worthy people, and some knaves, as in every community.

But it was a hard, hard life, with terrible work and great danger, and no amusements; no books or papers, very little visiting; only once in a while an opportunity to hear a preacher, and for this they had to take much time and travel far. The people dressed in skins of wild beasts that the men had killed and in linen stuffs that the women had woven. Except in firearms and knives they had almost no iron. They ate chiefly game, fish and coarse cornmeal. They used to buy and sell by barter, so that many a child grew up without ever seeing money. Their dwellings were open to the weather and some were so cold that the people living in them had to sleep on their shoes lest they should freeze too stiff to put on in the morning. Children used to play barefoot in the snow. But they suffered much from such hardships, and grew old and died before their time.

But for all their hard living these people had a great regard for law and through everything kept a certain order. They organized for themselves courts and councils; enforced contracts; collected debts; and in knowledge of government

were far above their social condition. They were strong and courageous men and women. To the pluck and endurance of our pioneers all over the land, we owe much of what our country is today.

It was from such ancestors as these that Abraham Lincoln was descended. In the great struggles and victories of his life he needed all the courage that came to him from brave and worthy men and women.



Abraham Lincoln, the grandfather of our president, was killed by Indians. He was working with his three sons at the edge of a clearing. When he was shot, the oldest son, Mordecai, ran to the house and seized a rifle; the second son flew to the neighboring fort for assistance; and Thomas, the youngest, afterward the father of President Lincoln, but then a child of six years, was left alone with the body of his father. Mordecai saw through a loophole in the cabin an Indian stooping to pick up the child; and he shot the Indian dead. Help came from the fort and the Indians who had begun to gather, ran away. The rest of his life Mordecai always shot all the Indians he could, and never waited to find out whether they were his friends or his foes.

After her husband's death Abraham Lincoln's widow moved to a more thickly settled neighbor

hood; and there her children grew up. Thomas became a carpenter. He could do good work, but had no ambition, and was the poorest of any of the Lincoln family. But he was honest and good and self-respecting, and of a sunny disposition. While he was learning his trade, he married Nancy Hanks, the niece of his employer. Her family had come from Virginia at the same time with the Lincolns and others. She could read and write, and she taught her husband to write his name. She was bright and handsome; but they were very poor. After the birth of a daughter, they moved to a little farm, barren and unattractive. There, when Thomas and his wife were poorer than ever, on the twelfth of February, 1809, their son Abraham Lincoln was born. Evidently, he was named for his grandfather who was killed by Indians. Little did father and mother guess that this baby son after he had lived over fifty years was destined also to be shot, not by Indians, but by one quite as wicked and savage as any of them.

When we see young people with every advantage, able to go to the best schools, to have all the best books to read, to travel and see many countries and famous places, to have all kinds of privileges and enjoyments in life, we are led to

think that they have such opportunities to grow great in mind and power and do a noble work in the world that we are tempted to envy them all their possibilities. But when we study the matter we find that of all those who have made their lives a blessing to the world in any walk of life, in science, art, literature, discovery, government, very few have begun their lives with special advantages. A much greater number have worked their own way from poverty and hard circumstances and grown strong in their battles with hardships. A man's real possessions are his mind, become strong by study and thought and exercise along the lines in which he grows great, and especially his heart, which guides him in honesty and honor and justice and love to his fellowmen and points out the only right way to walk.

But of all the children who began life with little and grew to greatness, very few had so little as Abraham Lincoln. It is said that he never talked even to his intimate friends of those very early years. The first four years of life Abraham passed on a dismal and barren farm on Nolin Creek in Hardin County. Then his father bought a fine farm on Knob Creek and put a part of it under cultivation. Here they lived until the boy was seven years old.

What a lonely life for the little fellow! His

« PreviousContinue »